Monday, December 19, 2016

'Tragical-comical-historical-pastoral': Donald Trump, a cut-rate Hamlet, tries to figure out in which direction his destiny calls him


Almost a year ago on this blog I put forward the theory that Donald Trump's campaign was based on a variation of dialectical
Beneath the confident exterior, what gnawing Hamlet-like difficulties for Trump?
materialism, the philosophical underpinning of Communism, insofar as he was proposing a synthesis out of liberal thesis and conservative antithesis. I called it dialectical Trumpism. Its rather feisty utopian message generated the populism that the President-elect now seems to have abandoned. He is embracing elites he once scorned, even though he continues to reject others.

It's increasingly evident to me that his words and behavior are focused not on any ideology, but on his narcissism. He's betraying desperation about how to ascertain what will keep his greatness intact. Approaching the rigors of the presidency, he unconsciously invites charges of inconsistency and incoherence with his rallies, Trump Tower meetings and, above all, his Twitter battles. It's a price he will pay with an increased show of bravado. But something is gnawing at him from within.

So now we have a creature we can call Trumplet, a figure constantly struggling to see if the presidency will adequately reinforce his greatness or obfuscate it, diminish it. Indecision vies with dogged ignorance in a struggle to blaze a path forward for himself. Could being "presidented" actually be a step down?

What follows borrows the model of Hamlet's most famous soliloquy in an attempt to peer inside Trump's tortured mind, using his recent contradictory tweets about the Chinese seizure of a U.S. drone as a spur for the occasion. His back-and-forth on the issue has been trumped, as it were, by China's agreement to return the drone. (The Trump neologism "unpresidented" is a word the Bard might have coined.)

The dramatic genre in which such a soliloquy might take place is definitively identified in the Polonius quotation above.


There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
       
        — Hamlet, II, ii

O, woe is me / T' have seen what I have seen, see what I see.

        —  Ophelia, III, i


[Enter Trumplet, alone.]
To be great, or not to be great
Again forever, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The arrows of unpresidented fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by tweeting, end them. To die or tweet.
No more, and by a tweet to say we end
Or dilute the heartache and the natural shocks
That Trump is heir to; to die or tweet.
To tweet, perchance to dream — ay, there's the rub,
Believe me, folks: for in those tweets what dreams
May come, when shuffling off to Washington,
Must give us pause; there's the respect
That makes calamity of such a long campaign.
For who would bear the whips of Vanity Fair,
The media's wrong, proud Democrats' contumely
(A word I do not love, so National Review-ish),
The insolence of pundits, and the spurns
Reported of electors who may balk,
When he himself might his quietus make
By turning huge jobs over to Mike Pence.
Who would inconvenient burdens bear
To grunt and sweat (and I am not in shape,
To be honest with you), but that dread
Of not being great again, a country
From whose bourn no traveler returns —
Just look at the George Bushes — puzzles the will
And has me gladly meet with Kanye West
Instead of working hard (no photo ops!).
Thus fear of being too unpresidented
Is sullied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
Which I'm not used to, so that my outrage
At China 'cause they took away our drone
Had its currents turned awry, and lost
The name of action: Let them keep the thing!